Police departments around the country are facing some serious credibility problems. Late last month, riots broke out in Baltimore after the tragic death of an African American man who suffered critical spinal injuries while in police custody. Although the investigation is “continuing,” it appears that the young man was the victim of a police transport punishment, known as a “nickel ride,” or a cheap roller coaster ride. This barbaric and absurd practice involves transporting an arrestee in a van without proper security restraints and driving erratically to encourage injury.
The case out of Baltimore comes after a series of police shooting deaths across the country. Earlier this year, another African American man in South Carolina was killed after he was shot in the back multiple times by a police officer. Video footage from a courageous bystander surfaced disputing the police officer’s reports.
Clearly, race relations between local police departments and African American communities seem to be at an all-time low. But this is nothing new, especially in Philadelphia which, like Atlanta and Baltimore, has a large African American community.
The reality is that a disproportionate number of African Americans in Philly are arrested and charged with crimes including drug and gun crimes. In many instances, African American citizens in the area face arrest and prosecution because of a corrupt police officer in Philadelphia. This happens more often than we would like to admit. Sadly, police corruption has reached what seems like epidemic proportions.
Over the past few years, multiple police officers in Philadelphia have been arrested and charged with various acts of corruption including perjury, falsifying evidence and reports, stealing, drug dealing, etc.
Earlier this year, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office began prosecuting two Philadelphia police officers for the beating of a North Philadelphia man, after video footage of the beating surfaced. The man suffered serious injuries, including facial fractures. The video footage showed that the officers’ version of the events was completely untrue. The officers were charged with various acts of assault, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.
This recent case was followed by a federal trial of former Philadelphia police officers from the narcotics division. That case has received national media attention. A verdict is expected shortly. The officers are accused of shaking down alleged drug dealers, stealing drugs and money from them and then lying about the conduct to secure convictions. Their fate rests on the testimony of a former police officer who has already pleaded guilty to corruption.
Like the rest of the country, the Philadelphia community has had enough of police brutality, shooting deaths and corruption. Our criminal justice system and the people facing arrest and jail/prison deserve better.
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